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Chamber Concert live stream

Milo Coker
Milo Coker

Rugby School warmly invites all members of the Rugbeian Community to Milo Coker’s (T) Chamber Concert on Sunday 21 May at 11:45am held from the New Music Room. 

Milo’s musical experiences began at The Minster School, York where he was introduced to choral and other forms of music from a very early age. He began playing piano aged 4 and then soon after the trombone.

It was, however, his love of singing that became the driving force in his musical development when, aged 8, Milo joined the Berkshire Youth Choir performing at the Royal Albert Hall and as treble soloist with popular vocal ensemble G4. He successfully auditioned for the National Youth Boys’ Choir aged 10, performing in a number of courses before moving up to the National Youth Training Choir as a tenor in 2020.

Having moved to Warwickshire in 2016, Milo became Head of Music at Spratton Hall Prep School before being awarded a Music Scholarship to Rugby School in 2019. Milo gained his grade 8 ABRSM qualifications in both singing, under the instruction of Matthew Sandy, and piano, under the instruction of Rebecca Taylor, with distinction aged 16 and is currently working on Diploma repertoire for both voice and piano. 

The concert will be live streamed and can be seen by clicking here.


Milo will be performing the following pieces:

Gia Il Sole Dal Gange – Scarlatti (1680)
Baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti was born in 1660 in Sicily.Nicknamed ‘the Italian Orpheus’ by his contemporaries, his works includedmany genres of the time; sonatas, concerto grosso, motets, masses,oratorios, and cantatas. The aria ‘Gia Il Sole Dal Gange’ comes from the opera‘L'honestà negli amori’, which first premiered in 1690. The opera itself isalmost completely forgotten, except as the source of this aria. The songdescribes the sun rising over the river Ganges, its golden rays brighteningthe landscape. The ascending lines, major tonality and vigorous scalicbassline played in the piano accompaniment capture this mood.

Nigra Sum sed formosa – Monteverdi (1610)
‘Nigra Sum’ is from Monteverdi’s ‘Vespro della Beata Vergine’ (Vespers forthe blessed virgin). The text for ‘Nigra Sum’ comes from Old Testament text,the Song of Song, and this particular section which Monteverdi has set tomusic describes, in the first person, the experiences of a Shulamite maidenand her relationship with the king (Solomon). His use of word painting in thisaria is interesting, for example on the word ‘surge,’ there is a rising scalicmelody, going from the very bottom of the tenor range to the top, showingthe word meaning ‘to rise’. Nigra Sum is a ‘monody’, an accompanied solosong with frequently embellished and often simple harmonies.

Horror, confusion – Handel (1751)
The recitative ‘Horror, Confusion’, followed by the aria ‘Open Thy MarbleJaws’, come from the oratorio Jeptha by George Frideric Handel. This was thelast oratorio he wrote, as his vision rapidly declined. The story focuses onJeptha’s promise to God that if he is victorious in battle, he will sacrifice thefirst ‘creature’ he sees upon his return. At this point in the narrative, Jepthareturns victorious from battle, and sees his daughter. Throughout the Recitand following Aria Jeptha is in a state of anguish, crushed by the realisationthat he must sacrifice his daughter to God in order to uphold his promise.This agony is reflected effectively in the music: the rhythmic unison betweensoloist and accompaniment, the driving bassline and the darkness of the CMinor tonality.

And God Created Man – Haydn (1798)
This Aria comes from the oratorio ‘The Creation’ by Joseph Haydn. The Tenorsoloist represents the archangel Uriel, and plays a narrative role,commenting on the six days of creation alongside the soprano soloist (theangel Gabriel) and the bass soloist (the angel Raphael). This aria describesthe creation of man and woman. This aria was one of the last pieces of musicHaydn ever heard, it was reportedly sung for him only days before his deathin 1809 as a gesture of respect by a French military officer, a member ofNapoleon’s invading army. The up-beat tempo and mostly tonic-dominantharmony reflects the joyousness of the text, describing the wonder of manas God created him, a ‘king of nature all’. Haydn also reflects the femininityof ‘woman’ in the second verse by introducing a more lyrical and legatoaccompaniment with a counter-melody.

Dichterliebe (1, 2, 3) – Schumann (1840)
Dicherliebe (The Poet’s Love) by Robert Schumann sets poems by HeinrichHeine, a major poet of the Romantic movement. The first song, ‘Imwundershönen Monat Mai’ (in the wonderful month of May), describes thebudding flowers and singing birds in May, while the protagonist’s love growsuntil they must confess it to the one they love. The second song, ‘Aus meinenTränen sprießen’ (spring up from my tears), describes flowers springing upfrom the protagonist’s tears, and a nightingale choir from their sighs. Theythen go on to say that if their love is reciprocated, they will pick all theflowers for their love and the nightingale will sing at their window. The thirdmovement, ‘Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne’ (The rose, the lily, thedove, the sun), is hugely contrasting in mood and style to the other songs.Schumann’s highly lyrical phrases and highly emotionally evocativeaccompaniments in Dichterliebe have led to it being potentially the mostpopular song cycle ever written.

Après un rêve – Fauré (1878)
‘Après un rêve’ by Gabriel Fauré is from his ‘Trois mélodies’, a set of songs forvoice and piano. This song described a dream of flight, away from the earthand toward ‘the light’. However, this dream comes to an end, and the speakercalls out for the night to ‘give back [its] lies’, crushed by the reality that thedream was not true. This piece is hugely characteristic of Fauré, with a lyricand fluid melody, potentially the reason it is often adapted for cello andpiano. The pulsing quavers that underpin the entire piece create a sense of aheartbeat, as the singer dreams, remaining strong throughout. The straightquavers, in conjunction with contrasting triplet quavers in the melody,creates a sense of pulling that suggests the protagonist is determined not towake up and face reality.

The Choirmaster’s burial (or, ‘The Tenor Man’s Story’) – Britten (1953)
‘The Choirmaster’s burial’ (or ‘The Tenor Man’s Story’) is from the song cycleWinter Words by Benjamin Britten. It sets eight poems by Thomas Hardy, aVictorian poet highly influenced by Romanticism. The cycle was premiered atthe Leeds Festival in 1953, with Peter Pears singing and Britten himself atthe piano. The duo’s personal and professional partnership is reflected in theidiomatic writing for the tenor voice, and specifically Pears’ capabilities andtimbre, seen here in the large unaccompanied sections, a vocal lineindependent from the accompaniment and a character voice for ‘The Vicar’.

Sleep – Gurney (1914)
Sleep is the most popular song from Ivor Gurney’s ‘Five Elizabethan Songs’. Itemotes images of huge sorrow and upset through the complex harmony anddissonance between the solo and accompaniment. The piece climaxes on thephrase ‘O let my Joys have some abiding,’. This text is such twice, the first asa demand, ordering that he is allowed more than a passing moment of joy.The second time takes a more pleading tone, begging that he be allowedenjoyment of his life. We do somewhat feel the protagonist has achieved thejoy he is longing for, due to the tonal shift into a Db major chord as the finalresounding chord, ending the piece. Gurney wrote this very early in his career,at a time when he was struggling severely from mental health issues. Hespent the last 15 years of his life in psychiatric hospitals, until he died at theage of 47 in 1937.

Ad Una Stella – Verdi (1845)
‘Ad Una Stella,’ from Verdi’s six romances is a relatively unknown piece bythe prestigious Italian Romantic composer. Whilst he is most well-known forhis opera, his works for solo singers are similarly dramatic and crafted yethave achieved far less renown. As a young composer, he wrotepredominantly for soloist or instrument, and it was not until around themiddle of his career that he began to write opera or oratorio. In ‘Ad UnaStella,’ the rich texture of the accompaniment and build-up of tensionthroughout the piece until a climax on a top Ab. This indicates that theseearly secular songs provided the foundations for Verdi’s operatic works,where when writing for tenor, he pushes the voice to the very extremes of itsrange, with polarising dynamics creating an extremely emotive style.

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